'Don’t call us, we’ll call you', says Nairn health centre manager
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The manager of Nairn Health Care Group has issued a plea for people to stop blocking their lines with calls about when they will receive the Covid vaccine.
Practice manager Tanya Barron said the practice is receiving up to 300 calls a day from members of the public about jabs, making it difficult for people with more immediate health problems to get in touch.
She says some members of staff have also been subject to abuse from callers.
The Inverness Courier Nairnshire edition has received several complaints from patients registered with the practice, some in the over-60 age group, and there has been criticism online of how the vaccine programme is being rolled out in Nairn, and the Highlands generally.
Mrs Barron said: “We are sometimes receiving between 200-300 calls a day from people asking about vaccines, and this is blocking a medical line for patients with immediate medical needs.
“Some of these calls have been abusive, and I have personally witnessed the distress this has caused members of our staff.
“Everybody over 60 has been offered a Covid vaccination along with those who are in clinical risk groups.
“Those that we have not been able to contact by phone are being contacted by letter.”
She said it was OK for those in those groups who have not yet been contacted about vaccination to get in touch with the practice, but others should wait until the practice gets in touch with them.
“Be patient and you will be advised when to attend for your inoculation, which is the practice throughout the country,” she said.
“Nairn is the largest practice in the Highlands. We have 15,200 patients and we are meeting all Scottish Government targets.
“Nairn has a higher proportion than average in the older age group.
“Over 7000 patients have received their first vaccine.
“Wednesdays are set aside at the clinic for the inoculations and staff are working long shifts – and we have engaged temporary bank staff to help with delivery.
“We are also doing vaccines on Thursdays and Fridays.
“We are currently vaccinating the ‘at-risk’ group six and the 60-64 years old, group seven.
“Group eight (55-59 year olds) and group nine (50 to 54-year-olds) will be contacted by mid-April as per the Scottish Government target dates, and subject to stock availability.”
A number of those who contacted the Courier have suggested Nairn is not receiving its fair share of vaccines.
One 63-year-old said that, if they were in Elgin, Forres or Aberdeen they would have received the vaccine already, and did not understand why Nairn should be different.
Another said: “Like everyone, I have nothing but thanks to those on the frontline working to achieve the end goal – my query is on the decision-making, which is materially benefitting certain areas, while being detrimental to others.”
Mrs Barron, however, said it was not the case that Nairn was being overlooked.
“We are not in control of vaccine supply but we are not behind in our delivery,” she said.
A spokesman for NHS Highland said it echoed calls for people not to contact their GP practice about vaccinations and added: “We hope to have offered a first dose vaccine by mid-April to everyone who is over the age of 50, or has a health condition which puts them at increased risk, or is a carer or frontline health or care worker.
“There is no significant variation between GP practices: though some may be a little ahead at one time, others will catch up and may be slightly further forward the following week.
“Practices may also move through the age groups differently depending on who they have been able to contact.”